PISCATAWAY, NJ (AP) — Jonathan Mitchell’s four-point play with less than one second remaining capped a career-high 25-point performance and gave Rutgers a 77-76 victory over No. 9 Villanova on Wednesday night.
Mitchell, who was coming off a career-best 24 points in a loss to Notre Dame, hit a 3-point shot from about 25 feet and was fouled by Corey Fisher. After a Villanova timeout, Mitchell, a 74 percent free throw shooter, hit the tiebreaker.
Fisher’s length-of-the-court inbound pass was caught by Maurice Sutton as he fell out of bounds. The Rutgers students poured onto the court — nothing like the football fans did after a win over Cincinnati in 2006 — and the celebration was on.
Fisher had 23 points, went 5 of 7 from 3-point range and had 10 assists and five steals, but he had a miserable final 7 seconds.
He made one of two free throws with 6.3 seconds left, leaving Villanova (19-5, 7-4 Big East) with only a three-point lead. He hit Mitchell as he shot with .8 seconds to go, giving the Scarlet Knights (13-11, 4-8) a chance at the win.
Rutgers came in on a four-game losing streak and two of those were to top-10 teams (Pittsburgh and Notre Dame). The Scarlet Knights had lost three straight and seven of eight to Villanova, including an 81-65 Wildcats win on Jan. 2.
Villanova had won two straight after a two-game losing streak.
The Wildcats, despite shooting 55.8 percent from the field (24 of 43) and 50 percent on 3s (8 of 16), just couldn’t pull away from the Scarlet Knights, who turned in another gritty defensive effort.
Isaiah Armwood made one of two free throws with 2:52 to go to give the Wildcats a 70-60 lead.
Rutgers took advantage of two Villanova turnovers to go on an 8-0 run that featured 3-pointers by Mitchell and James Beatty.
James Bell hit two free throws to end the run and give Villanova a 72-68 lead. Mitchell, who had six rebounds, scored on a tip-in with 46 seconds to go but Bell, who scored all seven of his points in the final 6:37, hit a 3 with 11 seconds to go.
Beatty, who finished with 15 points on 5-for-9 shooting from 3-point range, hit a 3 with 7.2 seconds left to bring the Scarlet Knights to 75-73, and Fisher missed the big free throw just under a second later.
Antonio Pena had 15 points and eight rebounds for Villanova, which finished with a 29-27 advantage on the boards.
(Copyright 2011 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.)